Being “cheap” takes time …

I realised (following prompting) that once again I’d neglected this blog.  My main problem is a combination of poor time management and being “Yorkshire” which, together with having the attention span of a cocker spaniel, combine to make having a good chunk of time to write anything vaguely readable a bit of a challenge.

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In effect, we’ve had lots of expense over the last few months that I’ve spent vast amounts of time trying to reduce to a minimum.  We’ve ordered a new car to replace the one that we’ve had for about 15 years and now is developing its own version of old age  – most problems for which the garage can’t find an easy solution.  We’ve had a computer that needed replacing, and a graphics card on another that also needed replacing – new school uniforms to buy (yet again!  grrrr), a college to sort out and decisions to make over what to do during the summer school holidays.

Being proudly “Yorkshire” originally, where the folk are renowned for having “short arms and deep pockets” (ie, they don’t like spending money!), I’ve spent huge amounts of time scanning the internet for various deals, vouchers, cash-back offers and doing research on all options.

We’re also, of course, in the growing season – admittedly here in the North of England it started off fairly late with the sun only deigning to appear within the last few weeks – so we’ve been harvesting and trying to work out what to do with a variety of home grown food including strawberries, raspberries, white currants, rhubarb and new potatoes.  We’ve also now got beetroot, two different types of beans, peas, courgette, salad leaves, sweetcorn, tomatoes and squash growing, that we’re hoping have had a suitable boost over the last couple weeks of sun.  Because looking at the current weather and the forecast that may be all they’re going to get!

I’m trying to make an effort to be organised .. I regularly write myself lists of things to do, I have a Google calendar that syncs up to my computer and phone that is chock full of things we need to do on certain days, together with “tentative” events that I know need to be done, but haven’t firmed up when, yet.

In between all that, I’m having to do the usual housework and tackle an ironing pile that just seems to grow of its own accord.

There is usually something wandering around the internet that talks of someone who starts off their day with just one thing to do, yet in the process keeps finding other things to do – finally reaching the end of the day and realising that one thing – it’s still waiting to be done.  That’s usually me, only there’s never only ONE thing!

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Seeing Red with Orange

I’m cheap.  As in .. I really don’t like spending a lot of money on unnecessary things.  Obviously some of the stuff I deem as “necessary” differs from a lot of other people, but I really can’t justify spending silly money on a mobile phone just because of the name and a few “features”, when I can get a perfectly adequate phone for a lot less.

That doesn’t mean I don’t lust after an iPhone though .. and have done for some years.

One of my friends recently took pity on me and, in a huge fit of generosity, gifted me her old iPhone when she upgraded to a new one.  The only catch being that it was locked to the Orange network.

I’ve never had anything in particular against that network – I’ve just for a long time been a Vodafone customer, not had any problems and saw no reason to change.  But I had been a little hacked off with Vodafone last time my contract was up, when they managed to reel me in with a “super special long-term-customer-only” offer – and only later I realised that they had completely fibbed to me and I could have gotten the same deal anywhere else.  So I felt no real commitment to them.

Anyway .. I looked into my options and decided that I could get a better deal with Orange, than I could if I paid to have the phone unlocked and moved it to Vodafone.

I bit the bullet and decided, at least for a temporary measure, to buy a pay-as-you-go sim card from the Orange website – some deal where you paid £10, got the sim card, £10 worth of credit plus enough freebies to keep me going with texts, data, etc for a month (the freebies running out after a month).

The Orange website was a little slow on the payment side of things, but eventually it stated it had received my order and that I would be getting email confirmation shortly.

Now … I’m usually fairly good at these things.  I really don’t like unnecessary paper lying about .. I have enough as it is.  So generally I keep the website open on a confirmed purchase, until I receive the email with all the details.  But I waited some time and it didn’t arrive.  I left the browser page open whilst I did other things .. got distracted, completely forgot about it and the page got closed.

I waited two days .. checked my bank and saw no withdrawal had been made by Orange.

I rang them up – got a call centre manned by foreign-speakers.  Explained the situation to the first person, wanting to confirm the order had gone through.  He couldn’t tell me until I gave him my Orange phone number (?!).  He eventually said someone else would have to deal with it .. he would get them to ring me.  So I gave my home number and sure enough, someone rang me back 10 minutes later.

Unfortunately, foreign-call-centre-person number 2 was also completely in the dark and gave me exactly the same rubbish as the first .. took my number, told me someone would ring me back.  No-one did.

I then tried twitter – I’ve had some success with customer services of various companies in the past via twitter, so had high hopes.  Unfortunately they just gave me the phone number to ring.  Tried that already!

In the end, I gave up.  I decided to simply order another sim card.  I would either get and pay for only one, as I was hoping, or would receive two and I’d just use the credit on them one after the other.  Pain doing it, but no big deal.

Conveniently, when I went back onto the Orange website, I had a “live-chat” box pop up, asking if I wanted help – so I “spoke” to someone there who advised that, if no money had been taken out of my account, the transaction can’t have worked and I should just go ahead and re-order.  So I did.

Several days later .. in the same post .. two arrived.  *sigh*

I opened one, stuck it in my “new” phone and it worked straight off the bat.  No problems.  I left the second in the packet so it was easy to keep track of, and then Red Nose Day arrived – hey … there’s a use for that extra £10 I accidentally spent .. instead of donating via my bank or normal phone, I’ll put the second sim card into my phone, activate it and send that tenner direct to Comic Relief.

Well .. apparently that was too easy.  I spent HOURS trying to get the bloody thing to work.  I tried putting it into the iPhone but it wasn’t having it, as the phone was already registered with a different sim, I tried putting it in an old phone that was originally handed down to one of the kids – until he left it in his trouser pockets, where I discovered it AFTER it had been through the washing machine.  Surprisingly (although it has had a month or so to dry out now) the phone actually worked – but the sim only worked partially.  It initially refused to connect to the network and I had to manually activate it on the Orange website, and then it just refused to send the text.

I visited the Orange website again and registered my account with them, which allowed me access to my usage history, account credit, etc.  Only to discover that I only had 1p credit.

I checked my bank account .. two lots of £10 had been taken out – one the day that I purchased the second sim card, another two days later.

I checked the paperwork that came with the sim card and noticed an option to “activate your credit” on the website .. so went there, filled in the form, got an error message saying my sims mobile number wasn’t recognised and to ring up.

*double sigh*

I rang them up and finally got someone who at least sounded like she knew what she was doing – she accessed my account and could see immediately that I hadn’t had the £10 credit added, nor the extra related “freebies”.  So I’m now just waiting for her to contact their “billing department” to get the credit added.

Whether or not it goes onto the correct account, or if they decide to charge me for it again, I don’t know – I guess that’s something I’ll discover pretty soon.  I’m really not expecting the “freebie pack” to be added but, to be honest, at this stage in the game I’d just be pleased to have the credit on there in order to send it out again!

At the end of the day .. brand new customer for Orange is NOT impressed so far.

The Slippery Slope

I have been playing wow for a number of years now – I wasn’t there from the start but I feel that I have earned my wings to some extent.

I enjoyed playing the game, exploring it, finding new things to do but most of all I enjoyed that it was constantly changing- new areas, races, experiences – and I enjoyed experiencing the process that we went through each time something new was about to happen.

I would read the forums and the blogs and laugh at or pity those who complained because it was all going to change and, because they either enjoyed complaining or had no trust in the team who make the changes, complained that it was bound to end up worse.

Now yes, I realise that with a lot of major patches there were a few problems – addons not working, glitches in encounters, even getting stuck in trees! But all in all I had faith that Blizzard knew what they were doing – I was confident that they had the game and the Warcraft story’s best interest at heart.

And then they made the announcement that shook my faith to it’s core – they announced that Real ID would be required in order to use their forums – meaning that if you posted you would be forced to use your real name. And then when people complained they said it was optional – if you wanted to post it had to display your real name – but you had the option of not posting.

I’m not going to repeat the many forum posts and blogs out there who have demonstrated how bad this would be on many levels – I’ll just concentrate on how I feel. And that is for the first time since I have grown to love this game I’ve felt that those who are providing it don’t give a damn about us, the common gamer. Yes they want our money and therefore keep us ticking along generally, but they have now demonstrated that ultimately they have a lack of actual consideration as to how WE feel. It was basically a “like it or tough” decision.

I know that since then – following a massive outcry by the gaming public – blizzard have changed their minds about the real names on forums idea, but the very fact that THEY thought it was a good idea shatters my confidence in them knowing what is right for the game. Which makes me very sad and makes me wonder how much longer World of Warcraft, the massive multiplayer online roleplaying game will exist.

A new beginning

Now I had lots of things I could write about here – but of course as soon as I get a blank page in front of me, the old noggin goes blank too.  Suffice it to say, I’m still a baby in the blogging world.

I have lurked for quite some time, and decided it was time to stick something down on “paper”.  Visit the “about me” section to get a bit of background, and keep your fingers crossed that I don’t fall flat on my face!

I have one or two things I could write about (doesn’t everyone?!) – my main interests over the last few years have been researching an increasing family tree and playing World of Warcraft, in between keeping house and various part time jobs.  Unfortunately the family tree stuff has lapsed over recent years, but I can highly recommend it – it isn’t as boring as it sounds and often turns into some sort of detective game.

As far as World of Warcraft goes – I have been playing now for a few years – not long after the first expansion to the game came out (The Burning Crusade).  I started off dabbling with a few alliance characters, but soon fell in love with the Horde – the undead are sooooo good looking! 😛